CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - The nation's oldest Roman Catholic newspaper retracted an opinion column that said the devil may be behind gay attraction after the essay was condemned as cruel and wrong by gay rights groups.
The weekly paper, the Boston Pilot, which is run by the Archdiocese of Boston, on Wednesday removed from its website the October 28 article titled "Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction."
It also posted on its website and in its November 4 print edition a "retraction/apology" by its author, Daniel Avila, who advises on policy against gay marriage for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The essay in the 184-year-old paper had concluded that "scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil."
Groups such as DignityUSA, the country's largest network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and supporters, had expressed outrage at the piece, saying Avila's "extreme beliefs" were hurtful to gays.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA's executive director, said Avila and the Archdiocese "have inflicted tremendous damage on the souls and psyches" of the people in the gay community. His advisory role to U.S. bishops, along with the Pilot's publication of his column, "shows that Catholic officials are willing to go to extremes in their anti-gay campaign," she added.
The Pilot, the Archdiocese and the Catholic bishops conference should end their relationship with Avila, because his essay "violates a fundamental belief of our faith; that all people reflect the Divine image and are beloved by God," Duddy-Burke said.
In his apology, Avila wrote that he opposes "all unjust discrimination" and noted that his column did not represent the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference. The Pilot echoed his statement of regret and apologized for not having seen the theological error in the column before publication.
Most recent figures show the newspaper has a circulation of about 21,000.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)
Mochila insert follows.